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Full text of "A history of Persia"

of its followers still survive and are to some extent
protected by the British officials.1
The Sack of Baghdad and the Execution of the Calif h^
A.H. 656 (1258).—From Hamadan, which Hulagu had
made his headquarters after crushing the Assassins, a
summons was sent to the Caliph Mustasim Billah, and in
the autumn of A.D. 1257, or more than a year after
accomplishing his first task, the Mongol prince, after
much hesitation and consultation of astrologers, marched
westwards to attack Baghdad from the east in co-operation
with Baydu. The latter was instructed to march from
the north and attack from the west, the object evidently
being to prevent the escape of the Caliph and his subjects.
Mustasim Billah was an unworthy nullity, full of false
pride. Instead of profiting by the delay granted him
through Hulagu's love of ease and pleasure, he took no
adequate steps to collect troops} and above all, utterly
refused to unlock the doors of his treasure-house. Had
he been a capable ruler, he could very probably have
beaten off the Mongols, but the last of the Abbasid
dynasty was a sorry degenerate.
The two Mongol armies aggregated about one hundred
thousand men, whereas the Caliph, owing to his avarice
and folly, could not muster more than one-fifth of that
force. Resistance was offered at Takrit, where the bridge
over the Tigris was destroyed, and again at Dujayal; but
the Mongols flooded the Moslem camp during the night,
making the position impossible, and only a few fugitives
escaped to Baghdad. The Mongols now advanced on the
heart of Islam and took part of the walls by assault.
Overtures were then made, and, like so many other deluded
victims of Mongol treachery, the Caliph surrendered.
According to the Moslem historians, he was done to
death by being tied up in a sack and then trampled on
by horses or beaten with clubs, and the story is not
improbable, since to shed royal blood was contrary to the
Mongol usage.
However, it is impossible to pass by the  account
1 In Chapter LXXVII. an account is given of the rebellion of Aga Khan, the leader
of the Ismailis in the middle of the nineteenth century.